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Win Over Clippers Ends Knicks' Drought

February 26, 1988|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

The New York Knicks ended a club-record, 18-game road losing streak with a 106-96 win over the short-handed Clippers Thursday night before 12,129 fans at the Sports Arena.

It was the Knicks' first road win since Nov. 25, when they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 104-101, in Richfield, Ohio. The Knicks are 2-23 on the road this season, but they are 19-8 at home.

"Now I don't have to answer any more questions about what the difference is between our home and road record," said New York Coach Rick Pitino after the Knicks won their first road game in 92 days.

"We got the monkey off our back," Pitino continued. "Now, I don't have to keep reading about this streak."

Guard Gerald Wilkins scored 25 points to lead New York (21-31), which moved within a half-game of tying the Philadelphia 76ers for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

Center Patrick Ewing and forward Kenny Walker had 16 points and 8 rebounds apiece. Ewing also had two blocked shots.

"I'm not even worried about our road streak," Ewing said. "All I care about is winning. Not too many teams in the NBA play well on the road. We felt too much had been made of it (the streak)."

The Knicks, who led 77-73 at the end of the third quarter, took control of the game in the final quarter, outscoring the Clippers, 29-23.

"We were kind of in a daze the whole game," Ewing said. "But we started playing better in the fourth quarter."

Knick guard Mark Jackson had 9 points and 11 assists.

"It's a great feeling (to break the streak)," Jackson said. "It just feels excellent to get the win. I promise you we won't go 92 days without a (road) win again."

The Clippers (11-40), who have lost seven straight, were without two starters, center Benoit Benjamin (throat infection) and forward Joe Wolf (sore left hamstring).

Guard Quintin Dailey, the Clippers' leading scorer off the bench, left the game after he re-injured his groin in the second quarter.

Dailey sat out last Saturday night's 120-103 loss at Utah because of the injury.

Greg Kite started in place of Benjamin and grabbed 10 rebounds to tie his career high. He also scored 13 points.

Rookie Kenny Norman, who replaced Wolf, had 14 points and 4 rebounds.

"That was really frustrating," Clipper Coach Gene Shue said. "The players really played their hearts out. We were really short. But we hung together as a team."

Guard Mike Woodson led the Clippers with 20 points, and forward Michael Cage added 16 points and 7 rebounds. The Clippers, who were without two-thirds of their starting front line, were killed on the boards, 48-31.

"Ben and Joe might have helped," Woodson said. "But I thought Kite and everyone else did well."

The Clippers hung in with the Knicks for 3 1/2 quarters, trailing 89-86 in the final quarter.

However, the Knicks put the game away with a 15-6 run. Wilkins scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, and Ewing added 8. They scored New York's final 17 points.

The Clippers didn't make any deals before Thursday night's trade deadline. However, help is on the way.

Forward Kenny Fields, who played for the Clippers last season after he was cut by the Milwaukee Bucks, will rejoin the club for Saturday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fields is playing for Rochester (Minn.) in the Continental Basketball Assn.

And, rookie swingman Reggie Williams, who has been sidelined for the last seven weeks with a knee injury, could return to action as early as Saturday. The Clippers plan to move Williams from small forward to point guard when he comes back.

Shue: "I really believe if Reggie fills in at the point guard position, and we can get help in other places, that we'll start to play well."

Clipper Notes

The Clippers will have to cut two players or place them on the injured list to make room for Kenny Fields and Reggie Williams. Club officials won't reveal their plans, however. . . . The teams attempted 86 free throws Thursday night. . . . The Clippers play the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday at the Sports Arena and open a four-game trip against Eastern Conference teams next week. . . . Benoit Benjamin showed up for the Clippers' pregame shoot-around Thursday at 5 p.m. However, he was sent home because he felt dizzy and had the sore throat.

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